Calvinists use Romans chapters 9–11 as the undeniable evidence of Calvinistic soteriology, defending both unconditional election and reprobation. A.W. Pink says, “Romans 9 contains the fullest setting forth of the doctrine of Reprobation.” John Piper says that Jacob and Esau “were appointed for their respected destinies before they were born.” In response, to give the context of the verses, Romans chapters 9–11 are about Israel, where Jews are considered nationally, both alone (Romans 9:1–5, 10:1–3, 11:1–10) and contrasted with the Gentiles (Romans 11:11–12). Everett F. Harrison notes that “election which is treated on an individual basis in 8:28–30, 33 is now viewed from the national perspective of Israel.”
Calvinists often refer to two particular events as evidence of God’s sovereign unconditional election and reprobation. These two are Jacob and Esau (Romans 9:10–13), and Pharaoh (Romans 9:17–18). They also quote Romans 9:22–23 to demonstrate unconditional election and reprobation as well. I agree that these passages illustrate God’s sovereignty over creation, a truth with which I wholeheartedly agree; however, they do not demonstrate that God unconditionally elects some to eternal bliss and others to eternal fire, reprobation, nor do they demonstrate the particular way that Calvinists define sovereignty. In this article, I look at Jacob and Esau (Rom (9:10–13). I will look at the other two passages in a following article on Pharaoh. Continue reading →
Salvation begins with God revealing himself to man. Man cannot find God unless he reveals himself to man. God’s love for his creation is why there is a way for people to be saved from their just desert (John 3:16). Christ came into the world to save mankind, which means he had to pay for man’s sins (John 1:29). He also had to initiate the salvation opportunity on a personal level since man on his own will never pursue God (Rom 3:11). He did this by enlightening every person (John 1:9–13) and by drawing and calling individuals to salvation (John 6:44; 12:32) so that a person can by grace, trust in the person and work of Christ, which is the will and work of God (John 6:29).
It is after God reveals himself and enables mankind to believe that he gives man the command and opportunity to believe, which man does not have to do (Matt 11:20–24). If man does respond in faith to the revelation of God, God will respond by creating a new person (2 Cor 5:17). The work of regeneration is totally a work of God, as was the first creation. The order of salvation is revelation, faith, and regeneration. Continue reading →
Although I do not accept Calvinism as reflective of God or his plan of salvation as depicted in Scripture, I do maintain the following. Whether God chose to save man according to the teachings of Calvinism or Extensivism, salvation is all by grace. I further believe he could have chosen either way; since, in either scenario, he would have sovereignly and freely chosen the plan including all of its components, each would be totally by grace; however, most Calvinists are not so kind regarding the possibility of Extensivism. Continue reading →
Calvinists seek to make Calvinism more biblically compatible by contending that regeneration is only logically prior to faith and not temporally prior to faith; I believe their attempt fails. Continue reading →
Calvinism’s endeavor to exalt God by emphasizing compatibilism, unconditional election, and monergism actually diminishes God. One simply cannot diminish the work of the Creator without diminishing its Creator, which Calvinism does by strapping man with compatibilism, whereby man was created to inevitably sin and be totally passive prior to regeneration. Continue reading →
Both Calvinists and Extensivists (non-Calvinists) speak as though things such as prayers, trials, miracles, preaching, testimonies, child rearing, education, and other influences play a vital part in salvation; these, along with a host of other influences may be categorized as events. It seems as though we all really mean these kinds of events play a similar role in God’s salvation plan. However, such is not the case. The only similarity is that Calvinists and Extensivists use the same words, but the way Calvinists use these words are essentially dissimilar to the way they are normally used and used by Extensivists. Calvinists themselves tend to obscure the real differences. Continue reading →
The determinism of Calvinism is best understood as micro-determinism because it is not limited to the area of salvation (including reprobation). Well-known moderate Calvinist Millard Erickson, in contrasting Calvinism and Arminianism, says of Calvinism, “Calvinists believe that God’s plan is logically prior and that human decisions and actions are a consequence. With respect to the particular matter of the acceptance or rejection of salvation, God in his plan has chosen that some shall believe and thus receive the offer of eternal life. He foreknows what will happen because he has decided what is to happen. This is true with respect to all other human decisions and actions as well. God is not dependent on what humans decide. It is not the case, then, that God determines that, at times, what humans will do will happen, nor does he choose to eternal life those who he foresees will believe. Rather, God’s decision has rendered it certain that every individual will act in a particular way.” (italics added) Continue reading →
I have a strong desire to enable people to more readily recognize the unmitigated determinism within every aspect of Calvinism. This serves to make dialogue regarding the merits and liabilities of Calvinism clearer as well as enabling everyone a better opportunity to be aware of what they are actually embracing when they don the title Calvinist. In view of that, I frequently speak about the nature of compatibilism, which is Calvinism’s chosen perspective regarding man’s freedom as contrasted with libertarianism, Extensivism’s belief about man’s freedom. If the entailments of these perspectives are misunderstood, the conversation is unproductive. Continue reading →
The following is a question from a respondent to one of my articles. It was asked and responded to in a public forum.
You said, “Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying. My mother was brutally murdered when I was 8 years old. Are you saying my God wasn’t strong enough to save her or that He cares more about something (namely the free will of man) other than making life perfect and free from sin?”
The following is my response. Continue reading →
Much of the confusion in discussions between Extensivists (here used in place of non-Calvinists) and Calvinists is due to not understanding the different perspectives regarding man’s moral freedom. Calvinists believe man is free according to compatible moral freedom; in contrast, Extensivists believe man is free according to libertarian moral freedom. A clear understanding of these two ideas is essential to properly evaluating the claims of each perspective. The following is provided as a summary. A more detailed explanation can be found by searching Compatible and Libertarian Freedom. Continue reading →